This year has seen a massive amount of change. Back in January, CES was still a massive show you could attend, most of us that travel were still traveling heavily, working from home was the exception, not the rule, and having your manufacturing outsourced to China seemed like a brilliant thing to do given the cost of labor. Masks were something you saw folks wear overseas, we shook hands, hugged, and even kissed because social distancing wasn’t a thing. Vacations were more than sitting around the house, staring at your loved ones, and Zoom bombing was something your small child did with a toy airplane.
A lot has changed in a short period, and that change is far from over. Supply chains are in flux, and the focus is on redundancy and reliability over cost because you can’t sell what you don’t have. There is a heavy focus on ramping up robotics because robots don’t get sick. The airlines are on life support (as I write this, United has announced they are going to lay off half their workforce). And we are now adjusting to both work and school happening at home for the foreseeable future.
I just became aware of something called the Flux Mindset; you can see an interesting Ted Talk on the topic here. A Flux Mindset is what the name implies. We generally don’t like change and tend to fight it—which works against us when there is a massive change like we are now experiencing. A Flux Mindset is a very different way of approaching change. Instead of resisting it, you embrace it and look for new and unique advantages—let me explain.
Why You Want to Stop Fighting Change
I’ve been reading up on other times when a change has been this pronounced, and from watching the metrics, they aren’t good. When things are relatively stable, we become comfortable with the lack of change. Relationships and marriages may not be great, but they were OK. When forced to stay locked in with people for long periods, those little problems can become huge. Once China opened up, the number of divorces went through the roof.
Jobs are becoming obsolete at a massive rate, but we are ill-prepared for a catastrophic career change. There is also a genuine concern that suicided rates are already increasing. Once we get comfortable with the status quo, and fight change when that change happens, we are ill-prepared, and the outcome for many will be dire.
But it is a mindset. I’ve been fortunate—though it didn’t seem that way at the time—to have lived a lifetime of change. I never went to any school for more than two years. Even though I say I worked at IBM for ten years, during that time, I worked for three distinctly different companies. I fought specialization because I knew if I specialized, I would be vulnerable to becoming obsolete.
I have actual job experience in merchandising, marketing, coding, manufacturing, sales, accounting, finance, human resources, law enforcement, security, eCommerce, and operations. This background, though mostly not planned, has helped make myself an agent of change rather than someone resisting it. The result is when change happens, I can typically get over the initial shock quickly and pivot to the next opportunity faster than most.
I’ve found I get bored when things don’t change because I’ve lived a life of change. This decade, by any measure, looks like it will be my decade. It can be your decade as well, but you have to change your mindset because “stability” isn’t a term we are likely to use for a while when it comes to our lives or relationships.
Wrapping Up: Changing to a Flux Mindset
April Rinne is putting together a group, kind of like a support group, for those of us that need to evolve from living and enjoying a lack of change to someone who looks forward to and drives change. You can find this resource here. Now, you can’t change much of what is coming, but you can influence much of it, you can prepare for most of it, and you can enjoy it because the lack of change isn’t very exciting.
Just like I was, you are being forced into a rapidly changing world, and your choice, like mine, is to either look for ways to benefit from change or be overcome by it. In a column, I can’t get you to where you’ll need to be, but if you watch the video and join the working group, with me, you can learn to better deal with this change.
Over the next few years, layoffs are expected to set records and entire career paths will vanish. But new jobs are still popping up, and new career paths with viable and lucrative futures are emerging. To use a surfing analogy, it is like suddenly seeing a tsunami coming at you: you can try to race to shore where the wave is likely to kill you, or you can race to the wave and try to ride it. For one direction, the outcome is undoubtedly dire; the other, regardless of how it ends up, will be one hell of an adventure.
Let’s catch a wave.
Rob Enderle has been a TechnologyAdvice columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an AS, BS, and MBA in merchandising, human resources, marketing, and computer science. Enderle is currently president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly worked at IBM and served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester.